This weekend I came across an article in The Sunday Times by Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson in which Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the internet, discussed the nature of the beast he has created.
Amongst various other subjects he touched on he said
“Most people have several groups of friends. But the web allows you to be part of a group that is not geographically close — you can talk to somebody in a tiny village on the other side of the world, where they have a different culture, and find you have something in common. I think that’s a good thing, it promotes human understanding, it encourages world peace.”
“Too many people forget that just because you can read anything it doesn’t mean you have to read everything,” Sir Tim says. “The web is one great big system of peer review, we are all acting as part of a big web of humanity all working collectively on the task of figuring out which pages are good to read.”
“The web is a very powerful tool and it can be used for good or evil. Nuclear power can be used to make a nuclear bomb.”
“I don’t feel responsible for the fact that terrorists as well as doctors use the world wide web because the world has terrorists as well as doctors. It’s not the role of the web to make a world in which there are doctors but not terrorists. That’s the role of armies and governments and parliaments and judges.”
“It has changed politics,” says Sir Tim. “It definitely had an effect on the way the Obama election worked. The individual is empowered, the electorate is informed. The web is a place where people can be held accountable for what they’ve said. “I think in China and Iran there is wide understanding that there is limited information coming online. Obviously I think the internet is much better when it’s not censored.”
This rather long preamble leads me on to my own personal experience.
Recently an elderly couple of my acquaintance, very new to the on-line world, forwarded me an email they had in turn been forwarded by an erstwhile “electronic pen-friend” geographically continents away. The communication was under the heading:
“Islam Explained in Layman’s Terms”
It stated that is was adapted from book by a Dr. Peter Hammond, entitled ”Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat”.
At a quick glance some of the phrases that jumped out at me confirmed what the title suggested; that this was a piece of viciously anti-Islamic rhetoric. Here are a few random examples:
“Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.”
“Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges.”
“…they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.”
“…expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim.”
“For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply.”
These quotes are interspersed between statistics stating percentages of Muslim populations in countries globally, qualified by statements of this nature:
“When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris, we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections… “
In the email the quotations from the book end here and are followed by a series of comments by the initiator of the original missive, who I presume is an American, given the references to Obama and his election last year. See below:
“Well, boys and girls, today we are letting the fox guard the henhouse. The wolves will be herding the sheep!”
“Obama appoints two devout Muslims to Homeland Security posts. Doesn’t this make you feel safer already?”
“Obama and Janet Napolitano appoint Arif Alikhan, a devout Muslim, as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.”
“DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano swore in Kareem Shora, a devout Muslim who was born in Damascus, Syria, as ADC National Executive Director as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).”
“NOTE: Has anyone ever heard a new government official being identified as a devout Catholic, a devout Jew or a devout Protestant…? Just wondering… “
“Devout Muslims being appointed to critical Homeland Security positions?”
“Doesn’t this make you feel safer already??”
“Was it not “Devout Muslim men” who flew planes into U.S. buildings 8 years ago?”
“Was it not a Devout Muslim who killed 13 at Fort Hood?”
“Please forward this important information to any who care about the future of our respective countries.”
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.. – Thomas Jefferson.
Thus ended the email with a quote from a man who claimed to be an abolitionist but is quoted as saying that black people were inferior to white people “in the endowments both of body and mind.”
Pointedly I repeat one line:
“Please forward this important information to any who care about the future of our respective countries…”
Being a curious type I investigated a bit further by Googling a phrase in the text, only to find that the excerpt plus comments had been forwarded around the world at least 4,410 times.
One of the top listed links was for an organisation called “Stormfront”. The email above was printed in full, with a few small amendments.
Here are some of the responses to the posting on the Stormfront site:
“Muslims in our country, hiding cowardly from the jews, whinging about “racism”, committing crime, making public anouncements that women in short skirts should be raped and not apologising, taking drugs and contributing to the degeneracy of our culture = SCUM OF THE EARTH”
“Sydney is already experiencing the effects of +5%. According to the 2006 census 3.9% of Sydney’s population is Muslim. I don’t know what the situation is like in other cities, those who feel that Muslims are just a peace loving minority are kidding themselves.”
“Islam is far from peace loving in Australia. Gang rapes for example.”
“This is why we need to fight against anything in Australia to do with Islam. Turn up to Muslim Mosques / Muslim School protests. Let your voices be heard.”
“My father always told me as a child “don’t trust them bloody towel heads” and the proof is in the puddin.”
“Apparently Islam started as a reformation against excessive “taxation” and government oppression in the Arabian world. Kind of like Jewry it thrives on been “oppressed” and seeking “justice” for its followers.”
Reading through these vile racist comments I Googled “Stormfront”. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the site:
“Stormfront is a white nationalist and supremacist neo-Nazi Internet forum that has been described as the Internet’s first major hate site.
Stormfront began in 1990 as an online bulletin board for white nationalist activist David Duke’s campaign for United States Senator of Louisiana. The name “Stormfront” was chosen for its connotations of a political or militant front and an analogy with weather fronts that invokes the idea of a tumultuous storm ending in cleansing. It was opened to the public in 1994, and the Stormfront.org website was founded in 1995, becoming the first website associated with white supremacy.”
What is missed in this particular quote is
A. Stormfront equates more accurately to “Blitzkrieg” (Lightning war)
B. Nick Griffin, in his notorious recent appearance on BBC politics program Question Time referred to Duke as follows:
“I’ve shared a platform with David Duke, who once was the leader of a Ku Klux Klan, and always a totally non-violent one…”
So – to Dr Peter Hammond himself. Who is he? A further on-line search took me to a site run by an American evangelist called Jay Rogers, whose recent posts include “Puritan Storm Rising”, “Abortion: The Religion of Witchcraft and Child Sacrifice”, “Occult Roots of Abortion” and bizarrely “Is “Nero” in the new Star Trek movie an intentional Christian allegory?”. On his site Rogers describes meeting Hammond:
“I had a couple of dynamic spiritual experiences this week. The first was meeting Dr. Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship, South Africa. Dr. Hammond is a personal “hero” of mine and is doing more to promote true Revival than anyone I can think of. He spoke of his mission’s work in Africa – the vision is no less than “All of Africa for Christ.” Hammond understands that Revival isn’t simply life-changing on a personal and pietistic level, but nation-changing and world-changing as well.”
Rogers has also posted a “ten commandments” style list of esoteric thoughts on what Hammond describes as “neo-Puritanism”, most of which is very dull reading, but points nine and ten read as follows:
“9. Frontline Fellowship’s vision is the transformation of all of Africa and the world. Neo-Puritanism is having an impact in these nations from children in home schools and church schools to the highest levels of government where presidents and high ranking officials are being impacted with world changing Gospel teaching.
10. We need to elect politicians with the backbone of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan who stood up to communism, not to appease anti-Christian tyranny, but to defeat it. Our attitude toward militant Islam should not be a “turn-the-other-cheek-pacifism.” Military action by African Christians in defense against Islam is not only permissible from a New Testament perspective, but mandated to defend the faith. There could even come a time in America when Christians may have to take up arms against invasive regimes, false religions and an oppressive government in our own land.”
In response there is a posting from “Anonymous commenting and asking: …Awesome, I want to link to this in facebook, how do I?, and Rogers passes on the link to him.
A quick search reveals that the “ten commandments of Dr Hammond” has registered at least 2,740 hits on Google.
A further search brought me to a site called Iviews.com, who quote Dr Hammond thus:
“In spite of the odds, the Christians [of Sudan] are ‘doing something’ about their situation, they are standing up against the evil of Islam. . . not only fighting for survival, but fighting to win back that nation for Christ.” – Derek Hammond, missionary affiliated with South African pro-apartheid group, Frontline Fellowship
It should be noted that Hammond refers here to the Christian Sudan Peoples Liberation Army – The SPLA claims to be defending the population of South Sudan from Khartoum’s army and from Islamization. “Though its members claim to be ‘Christians’ resisting Islamization, they have behaved like an occupying army, killing, raping and pillaging,” wrote the New York Times.
For clarity I should include Iviews.com’s ‘Mission’:
“Iviews.com is an interactive publication that focuses upon providing timely reporting and insightful analysis and commentary on issues and events of importance to Muslims. While the publication is written from a Muslim perspective, its focus is not religious. Rather, iViews.com simply strives to add balance and objectivity to an otherwise homogenous media pool. Through expanded news coverage of the Muslim world, in depth analysis of world, national and local issues and enlightened intellectual perspectives, iViews.com works to bring to the fore, issues that might have received only cursory attention from typical media sources.”
An article entitled “Christian ‘Slave Redeemers’ Linked to Pro-Apartheid Militants” by Ishmael Royer states:
“Christian “slave redeemers” who are allied with Sudanese rebels have close links to militant South African missionary groups with ties to the former apartheid government of South Africa.”
It goes on:
“In Touch Mission International (ITMI) is a Christian missionary group based in Tempe, Arizona. It is the American arm of the South Africa-based ultra-right missionary group Frontline Fellowship. Frontline Fellowship activists have made dozens of trips to South Sudan, where they say they “smuggle Bibles” to Christian Sudanese… The chairman of Frontline Fellowship is Peter Hammond, a former South African army sniper and intelligence officer. Hammond, the son-in-law of ITMI president Bill Bathman, formed Frontline Fellowship on a South African military base in Namibia, drawing on ex-Rhodesian commando units for members. Frontline Fellowship literature called the South African army under apartheid a “missionary force” which must be supported.”
So, with a little investigation, the real purpose of posting sections of Peter Hammonds book, (and disseminating it widely via the net) is revealed. The old saying “don’t believe everything you read” rings very true. Agendas can be lightly disguised from the casual reader, as in this case, where political and religious extremism spread hatred, lies and manipulated truths about the religion of Islam. In case anyone disputes the validity of Iview’s sources, I quote the bibliography of their article below, and advise you to go and read it at Iviews.com (Article Ref: IV9912-755) – dated 21/12/1999.
1. Time, December 21, 1998 pg. 44
2. On one trip in January of this year Wiebalck was accompanied by SPLA Executive Council Member Arthur Akuien Chol, John Garang’s minister of finance and economic planning. See The Indian Ocean Newsletter, April 26, 1997
3. United Press International October 30, 1989
4. Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg), September 23, 1999. The document referred to was reproduced in: Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg) September 19, 1997
5. Financial Times (London), September 8, 1986
6. Time, March 28, 1988; also, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) March 19, 1988
7. Chicago Sun-Times 12/11/1987
8. The Indian Ocean Newsletter, November 27, 1999
10. Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg), September 23, 1999
11. The Arizona Republic, 10/29/1989 Page A14
12. Mail and Guardian, September 23, 1999
13. Africa News, November, 1989
14. Mail and Guardian, September 23, 1999
15. Africa News, November, 1989
16. For example: “Militia Leaders Propose Solution to End Montana Standoff,” PR Newswire, May 23, 1996
17. The Nation , 9/26/88, Pg. 228
And talking of newspapers two last views of Peter Hammond:
“If you believe Christ wants a holy war to preserve apartheid, the Reverend Peter Hammond is your general, his Frontline Fellowship your army,” wrote the National Catholic Reporter in 1989.
“Paintball Pastor’ Arrested After Kids Shot” by Johan Shchronen, November 30th 2005
Controversial pro-gun lobbyist and missionary Peter Hammond is facing criminal charges after allegedly shooting children with a paint gun in a bizarre Halloween trick or treat game. The Reverend Hammond, head of the Peninsula-based Frontline Fellowship, was arrested after surrendering to police in Pinelands. At least four children allege they were hit by paintballs in Rosebank and Pinelands on the evening of October 31.
Hammond faces charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and is due to appear in the Goodwood magistrate’s court on December 20. ‘I was shot off my feet and fell on the ground’Pinelands police said he had allegedly driven around Pinelands, Rondebosch and Rosebank with his three young children in the back of his car, calling costumed youngsters over then firing paintballs. One boy was shot in the face. Private detectives of PM Reynolds and Associates, hired by the father of one victim to probe the attacks, have taken statements from boys aged between 10 and 12, who were apparently lured to Hammond’s car that night and shot with a paint gun. Investigator Neville Bishop said Pinelands police had received a barrage of phone calls after news about the paintball attacks first surfaced but no statements or personal details of callers had been taken.
“There is a common thread in all my statements. The victims were all out on the streets dressed in Halloween costumes having fun when a car pulled up and they were lured closer by the driver shouting ‘Trick or treat’,” Bishop said.
“In two of the cases I’m still trying to establish which occupant in the car actually shot the children.
“The victim in the Pinelands attack, Marcus van der Oever, 12, who was shot at point-blank range in the face, so far has produced the most detailed account.”
Marcus said: “I was walking with a friend in Broad Walk, wearing our costumes. It was getting dark, so we were going home.
“A car pulled up, driven by a man who had children with him in the front and in the back.
“The man shouted ‘Trick or treat’ and I can’t remember what I said. Then the boy next to him lifted a paintgun and shot me in the face.
“I was shot off my feet and fell on the ground. The paint ball sprayed pink dye over me and my face was burning.
“The man laughed and pulled away,” Marcus said. Shocked and in pain, he stumbled home with his friend as his face started to swell. Marcus’s father, Thomas van der Oever, said his son had looked as if he had been kicked in the face.
“Marcus is lucky not to have lost an eye. His skin burst where the paintball hit him on the chin. It is so dangerous shooting someone in the face with a paintball gun at point-blank range.” Bishop said the first of two reports of paintball shootings came at dusk in Firth Street, Rosebank. “Two boys from Sybrand Park had been playing trick or treat and were waiting for sweets at the gate of a house when they were shot. One boy took three paintballs and his friend one.
“Further up the road another boy was shot once.
“Then Marcus was attacked in Pinelands,” Bishop said. Van der Oever said he was appalled that a “man from the ministry” would behave in such a way, especially when he had his children with him. Efforts to reach Hammond for comment were unsuccessful.”
Dr Peter Hammond. What a guy!
I post this blog not because I am pro or anti any religion, and neither would I support censorship, rather I seek to point out that taking any information on-line at face value is extremely dangerous, as this little bit of research into a piece of propaganda clearly illustrates.